Blizzard employees and others tracked down in an impressive display of how dangerous real names can be.
Yesterday saw a real blizzard of discontent launched online as game make Blizzard announced its Real ID service would force all posts on its forums to be made under real names. 1100 pages of complaint in one thread alone later (not counting the related threads on Blizz's forums, or the many other fora out there) and the hate for the move is still growing.
As we said in our report on it yesterday, in theory, we support the idea. It's meant to make the forums a more accountable space, where you can't create an alt to hide douchebaggery behind (which can be an issue even on our small forums at times). But it's also a move that depends on the goodwill and maturity of all users.
Blizzard made a good attempt at defending the move to start with, especially in one thread asking if Blizz employees would be posting under the rule. One blue poster (how employees are set apart on the forums) stated it would be the case, and even ponied up his real name as a show of good faith.
Which lead to him - or, arguably more worrying, someone with his name - being tracked down. Address, name of parents, hobbies, etc etc. He's since closed down his Facebook page, and has been quiet since. In fact, there's not been a lot of Blizzard response at all in the last 12 hours - even our attempt to get some kind of official comment on our concerns over being a journalist and how that will work have gone unanswered. Other people are raising similar job-based concerns, the most pressing we've seen so far being a teacher not wanting to be tracked down by students. Fair enough, too.
Other folks have played the stalking game too, though mostly so far to illustrate the issues with having one's name so blatantly displayed. On the blog 'what you did there; i see it', the blogger took up one forum poster's challenge to track down his work number and call him.
Twenty minutes later he got the call, and was told "I know your parents' names are Name1 and Name2, I know your room is painted blue and I know you have a cute dog. I know where you were on the 4th of July and I know when you got back."
The blogger apologised, and the poster certainly gets it. "Hey, I did basically ask for it - thank you," he said in response. "I was wrong about RealID."
Perhaps we are too. It's an idea only as good as those who'll be forced to use it - and relying on goodwill and maturity from random netizens can be a dodgy prospect at the best of times.